The classic equity sectors to hunt for yield have been defense, consumer staples, and utilities. The idea has always been that these sectors provide less in the way of capital gains, compared to more volatile high-flying sectors like technology, but in exchange for the more moderate capital gains, investors get stability and yield.
This year, however, as investors have tried to navigate the tail end of the business cycle and changing stances by the Federal Reserve, fund flows have gone to those classic defensive sectors. The result is double digit gains for the stock itself pre-dividend in year to date performance. Consumer Staples Select (NYSEARCA:XLP) is up almost 19%. The utility ETF Utilities SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLU) is not far behind, up 15%.
Dividend yields have fallen under this scenario, and XLU yields just 3%, while XLP yields just 2.7%. It’s clear then, that investors are going to need to look elsewhere for higher yields.
Energy, being rather out of favor this year, is offering some compelling opportunities.
Dividend Stocks to Buy: Energy Transfer LP
Dividend Yield: 8.2%
Energy Transfer (NYSE:ET) has been steadily executing on the strategic front. They have expanded their presence to China to meet growing demand for LNG and NGL products by opening an office in Beijing earlier in the year. ET signed a letter of intent with Sunoco (NYSE:SUN) to enter into a joint venture on a diesel fuel pipeline to West Texas. They have sold interests in certain pipelines to raise capital at attractive prices.
Regardless of how the overall market is treating the energy sector, especially midstream master limited partnerships (MLPs), ET has not missed a beat. Financials are in good order with a distribution cash coverage ratio of 2.07x. Fiscal year adjusted EBITDA forecast of $10.7 billion have been reaffirmed.
All the while the business keeps expanding. Plans on a Bakken pipeline optimization project will start next year. And on the Permian side, ET is expanding its Permian Express pipeline system by an incremental 120,000 barrels per day. The Permian Express 4 expansion is expected to be in service by the end of the third quarter of 2019.
Cash flows are extremely healthy. The dividend is secure. And new projects are fueling growth. The future for ET looks better than good.
Dividend Yield: 10%
DCP Midstream (NYSE:DCP) reported a strong first quarter yet yields remain sky high. This presents a great opportunity for patient investors who understand that equity sectors go on rotation and that there will be a day when the market wakes up and realizes how cheap companies have gotten.
DCP owns and operates more than 60 plants and 64,000 miles of natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines across 9 states. On this diverse base of assets, the company generated record distributable cash flow of $224 million in the first quarter. This puts the distribution coverage ratio at 1.45 times. So, despite difficult times for the sector, a best-in-class operator will still produce best-in-class results.
NGL Energy Partner’s (NYSE:NGL) pipeline throughput volumes was extremely strong, increasing approximately 30% year-over-year. In particular, Sand Hills and Southern Hills drove higher volumes. As a result, adjusted EBITDA set a record as well for the quarter.
Somehow DCP is just sitting there yielding 10%. Take advantage of the mispricing.
Dividend Yield: 6%
BP (NYSE:BP) has a plan in place to secure long-term cash flow distributions to shareholders. Oil prices have been volatile, but their turnaround strategy is well underway.
There are a number of ramp-up projects, three of which came on stream in Q1, and another that is scheduled to come on stream in Q2. These ramp-ups should make up for some lost volume that has certain analysts concerned.
The good news is that most of the major turnarounds are behind BP, so the company is now in more of a steady state. There will be some impact in Q2 but not to the extent that the market seems to be pricing in.
Lubricants, which has been a great business, has recently run into some issues with base oil prices, but management indicates that is leveling off. BP has made major efforts starting late last year to make that department more efficient, so there are ways to work around the headwinds.
A recovery across a couple of BP’s business lines going forward, in addition to the refinery system readying to go “full tilt” in 2020, has positioned the company well both from a growth and cash flow standpoint. Being paid 6% for the company’s thought through strategy to play off isn’t a bad deal.
As of this writing, Luce Emerson was long shares of Energy Transfer LP.